The loss in Orlando was a pretty dark moment for the 2019 season for FC Dallas. The young squad under Luchi Gonzalez struggled poorly in front of goal, while giving up a pair of goals on the other end to a Lions side that is sitting below the playoff line in the Eastern Conference.
The loss got a lot of us thinking. Maybe a little too much at times too about where this group is going this season and if they are indeed a playoff contender. With the playoffs still a huge battle to achieve this season, our staff decided to use this time to discuss at which point Gonzalez should throw as many young players or Homegrown players as possible to prepare them for 2020 out on the field.
Nathan Hill - Now
FC Dallas fans are rightfully frustrated at this team’s up and down performance. Playoffs are still a possibility, but the road is getting rockier. The margins are tight. Likewise, fans, especially those season ticket holders, feel a bit frustrated about the product value. Is it a good value to pay for season tickets to watch a bunch of youngsters get minutes and then get sold off to a big team in Europe somewhere? Where are the big name signings? Where are the players who can get this team over the hump? Is this a model that can be marketed in a place like DFW? Will it even work?
All those questions aside, the youngsters are present and future of FC Dallas. There isn’t a late transfer window signing that the Hunts can afford that will be the magic bullet for this team’s myriad number of issues. The veterans, simply put, aren’t getting it done. So, why not turn the reigns to the youth in these final stretch of games? Worst case scenario, the team doesn’t make the playoffs and these youngsters are even more prepared for 2020. Best case scenario, Ricardo Pepi and Jesus Ferreira start scoring in bunches, and FC Dallas gets on a late season run. It’s time. Maybe the youngsters will show the veterans a clearer picture of what Coach Luchi wants from his side. I say, go for it.
Andrew Gentry - Never
It’s simple really - there is never a time when going “full developmental” is feasible considering expectations in the Front Office and fan base. And that’s just it, expectations. You can’t be a developmental team and competitive (i.e. MLS Cup-winning) team in MLS. There are too many teams that are all in on winning now and developing later, or developing one player but bank rolling around them. Dallas is playing as many kids as many minutes as they are ready for while balancing the “winning” expectations. Besides, developing talent is a ceaseless endeavor; it should never be the only priority (in MLS anyway). There is no reason Dallas can’t win, and win big, while developing a few players but also having a star signing or two (or three) somewhere on the roster.
Just playing kids doesn’t equal developing talent. It’s not as easy as A + B = Championship Rings. You need a winning environment that includes the right coaches and teammates. You need players that help them grow on the field, not stall out - like Paxton is right now. Sure, we want to see a homegrown XI win the MLS Cup one day, but this isn’t 1950 or even 1990, that’s not the way the world or league works. Which brings us back to expectations. It’s going to make us all really uncomfortable and sad if we have to adjust our mindset to cheering for a “full” development model instead of a winning model - although right now, it feels like neither is happening.
Drew Epperley - Only if you get into September on a losing streak
As bleak as last weekend looked, there is still a good amount of soccer left on this season that can still be salvaged in terms of making the playoffs. FCD has one of the easier schedules of the teams in contention in the Western Conference at this point and anything is still truly up for grabs when you consider second place through tenth place is only a separation of 10 points right now.
But, if you head into September on a deeper losing streak and you’re sitting below the red line. That may be the time you throw caution to the wind if you are Luchi Gonzalez and begin testing out things for 2020 with guys like Ricardo Pepi getting more starts up top, Bryan Reynolds getting more minutes in the defense, or Thomas Roberts getting more chances in the midfield.
Jeff Loftin - Soon
I wanted to say never, but the reality is that this team is not winning anything this year. They still do not have a striker, though they have young guys coming up who might fill that role in the future. A 20 goal per season guy on this team turns FC Dallas into a title contender instantly. We do not have that guy starting presently so let’s see Pepi get more minutes and if the team continues to struggle then throw all the young guys in there. I am hopeful that the team will progress before next year but next year could be similar to this one, especially if we sell off one or two guys in the offseason (be prepared for that).
If the team is losing with our veterans out there then we may as well throw the young guns to the wolves and see who survives. I give it another 3 weeks and if we have not won a game by then - release the pups.
Jason Poon - We’re not there already?
I assumed we were full on developmental with so many homegrowns, and players who aren’t legal to drink playing either most of the minutes or are coming on in high impact situations (e.g. Bryan Reynolds as a late sub). If this isn’t actually the case, then just go now. This team can’t win any silverware this year, so why not use the rest of the season as a high stakes pre-season prep for 2020?